You may remember from Friday’s post about Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland, ME that my darling hubster loves shortbread. I’ve asked him exactly what it is about shortbread that he loves so much – the crumbly texture? Maybe the subtle sweetness? He can’t define it, though. Whatever it is, he can’t resist them whenever they’re around. I made his week, then, when I decided to make a double batch so that I might share the recipe with you today!
In my opinion, the best things about shortbread cookies are how very easy they are to make and the scanty number of ingredients necessary to make them. You only need unsalted butter, sugar (for dusting the cookies), salt, flour, and confectioners’ sugar.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and continue beating until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand with large clumps, as pictured below (the remaining regular sugar will be used later).
Now you need to shape the dough. There are a couple of options for this, so I’ll go into them so that you can pick the one that appeals most to you.
Your first option is to use a shortbread mold. These are nice because they are very easy to use, they help the cookies bake evenly, and they score the dough for you so the cookies are easy to cut.
You can also shape the dough into the same size and shaped disk without the pan (about nine inches in diameter and one inch thick). Dock the dough repeatedly with a fork, making a design if desired, then lightly score the dough into eight wedges with a knife to make it easier to cut once baked. Sprinkle it with the sugar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 300 degrees.
The last way to make these is to divide them into individual cookies before baking. Separate the dough into 10 pieces, weighing two ounces each. Roll each one into a tight ball, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and press the cookie until it is about an inch thick.
Since this was my first try making them like this, I left plenty of room between each cookie on the sheet. These won’t spread much at all, however, so you can place them relatively close together. Again, sprinkle with the sugar and bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
If you use a shortbread mold, as soon as you remove it from the oven, run a paring knife around the outside edge. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, place a flat plate, cookie sheet, or another wire cooling rack on top of the pan. Squeezing the racks together, flip the pan over so that shortbread comes out of the mold. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar, slice along the score lines, and serve.
For a large shortbread disk, cool it directly on the cookie sheet and slice it along the score lines before serving.
However you choose to serve these, they are wonderful! No, seriously. They’re, like, “don’t bother making them if you can’t have one” good!! And they’re wonderfully easy, so make them…and have one (or three)! Enjoy!
Buttery Shortbread Cookies
Makes 8 to 10 cookie
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and continue beating until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand with large clumps.
Using your hands, press all of the crumbs together in the bowl until it all forms a cohesive dough.
Shape as desired and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before frosting or serving.
adapted from Baking Illustrated
Vanilla, Lemon, or Almond Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, lemon, or almond extract
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Frost cookies once they are cooled and allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes to set up.